After Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg - Boogie Nights) and his team of expert thieves pull of the most daring of jobs in the centre of Venice, they should each have been set up for life, with a share of 35 million dollars worth of gold bars. Unfortunately, one of his team, Steve (Edward Norton - The Score), betrays them by making off with all the gold, and murdering Croker's mentor, John Bridger (Donald Sutherland - Space Cowboys). One year on, and Croker has tracked down Steve to his hide out in Los Angeles, where he has been enjoying the pleasures from his betrayal. Croker calls the remaining members of the team together along with Bridger's daughter, Stella (Charlize Theron - Hancock), to steal back the gold. With a cunning plan to create the biggest traffic jam in the history of Los Angeles, they are going to attempt to get back what should have been there's and take revenge on Steve the traitor.
So it may share the same title as "The Italian Job" from 1969, it may share some of the same characters, or at least character names and it may make use of the classic Minis, but that is where similarities with the 2003 version of "The Italian Job" stops. It is by no means a remake of the original, or really a sequel, this film should really be judged in its own rights.
Although the initial robbery is a beautifully choreographed piece of action, the focus of "The Italian Job" is the planning and robbery of their betrayer in Los Angeles. As such it relies heavily on impressive action sequences and special effects to keep you entertained, but that shouldn't detract from some very good performances from its main stars. The storyline is actually not too bad, but it seems to me that it ends up playing second fiddle to the action, and due to this it is not as an effective thriller as it could be.
In the main lead of Charlie Croker is Mark Wahlberg who although doesn't put in a commanding performance is more than adequate as the brains behind the robberies. As Steve, the traitor in the team is Ed Norton whose performance is probably the high light for me as he comes over as a real slimy, weasely sort of character. The rest of the team is made up of Stella the safe cracker played by Charlize Theron who is the daughter of Croker's deceased mentor, John Bridger played by Donald Sutherland. Then there is Left Ear, the explosives expert played by Mos Def. Next is Lyle the computer hacker played by Seth Green and finally there is Handsome Rob, the wheels man, played by Jason Stratham. One of the best scenes in the film is where they all get introduced to Stella and Croker explains what they specialize in. In general the cast put in some good performances but nothing to really write home about.
"The Italian Job" is directed by F. Gary Gray who is better known for his direction of music videos. To be frank, he has made an enjoyable action movie which unfortunately will always be judged by its predecessor of the same name. My biggest criticism is that he has relied too heavily on the action to keep you watching rather than an effective story line, but has also pulled out some reasonable performances from his stars. The soundtrack is as you would imagine with an action movie, quite upbeat, but it is very sympathetic to the scenes.
What this all boils down to is once you put out of your mind any supposed similarities between this and it's predecessor, the 2003 movie "The Italian Job" is a very enjoyable action movie which keeps you entertained for the duration of the film. The acting is not amazingly breath taking, and the storyline takes a backseat, but the special effects and action sequences make up for this. This version of The Italian Job will appeal to fans of modern action movies such as "Gone in 60 seconds" and "SWAT" but if you are expecting to watch a remake of the original you will be hugely disappointed.